Have movie audiences gotten dumber or is it just the writers who are no longer able to handle scripts more complicated than their fourth grade production of “The Wizard of Oz”? Even the light reflected off John Cleese’s hilariously white teeth couldn’t obscure the mealy mouthed, two bit hack writing behind Rat Race’s script.
Rat Race stars a big time cast of mid level celebrities, which includes, but is not limited to Whoopi Goldberg, John Lovitz, Cuba Gooding Jr., and John Cleese. Sadly, all of the actors in the film are much funnier than the film itself. Based upon the 1960’s classic It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Rat Race attempts to twist and update Mad’s tale of greed, disaster, and just plain bad luck. 8 normal people, 2,000,000 dollars, over 500 miles. The first one to the prize gets the cash. No rules, no help, just greed.
Like a knockoff Rolex sold by an aging street pimp, not only does Rat Race lack the complexity and charm of the original film, but somehow its director seems to have totally missed the point of the whole thing all together. Unlike It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Rat Race is not a farcical commentary on human nature, but rather a series of practically unrelated incidents strung together in a haphazard and random manner in a pathetic effort to get laughs from cheap and poorly thought out gags.
The street pimps responsible for this film should suffer. It’s not that Rat Race is frighteningly bad, especially when compared with some of the other severely unfunny comedies foisted upon the unsuspecting public. But, its disturbing to discover that even a silly old film like It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, which in its time was considered a “mindless comedy”, is deviously intelligent by today’s standards.
What’s more, the people actually in the film are FUNNY actors. They know what they’re doing, their timing is impeccable, their delivery hilarious! But the material with which they are presented is so drab and shallow that its impossible to find much that’s ACTUALLY funny in anything Rat Race’s characters do.
The entire film can be summed up as a series of trips, falls, and badly filmed car wrecks, punctuated by one truly funny scene where John Lovitz steals Hitler’s car and invades a World War II Veteran’s convention. Maybe it’s worth it to have a good laugh at Hitler’s expense, but who really cares? On my way home I picked up a copy of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, I suggest you do the same.